Current NSW and Queensland floods bring home the importance of local news in regional broadcasting, a sector which in recent years has seen a wave of cuts and job losses.
Last week WIN TV told a House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts it did not make money from providing local news yet it still provided more news than what was legislated.
“We’re still doing our best to provide as much news as what’s commercially viable to us in those markets. In fact it’s beyond,” said Steven Djokic, General Manager Broadcast Operations at WIN.
But he also noted WIN effectively paid twice in order to provide a local news bulletin.
“In our case, we pay for that 30 minute spot twice. We pay through our affiliation agreement, where we pay for that half hour with our affiliate partner. Plus, we actually cancel that out by producing our own 30 minute news bulletin in that spot, as well. So we pay double,” he said.
He also reiterated the need for Free to Air broadcasters to be highly visible on connected TVs.
“Prominence to us is even more vital. If someone’s going to turn on their television in regional Australia, for anyone to get any local content …to understand what’s happening next door, the only way we’re going to continue to get that if we get prominence on the screen. Because it’s going to be very difficult to compete against those shiny, bright, sparkly conglomerates that can just move over the top of us. It’s the only way people are going to get their local content, local stories, even their local programming.”
He added, “We’re lucky in the sense that our revenue source is not our news. Our news is something that we think is right for the community and what we deliver to the community.”